Our coach pulled in to Saigon in the late afternoon after a 4 hour trip from Can Tho. We just about managed to get ourselves into a cafe before the heavens opened. Aided by the use of sign language we managed to order ourselves a couple of bowls of Pho whilst the staff gawped at us as if to question, “you eat Pho!?”. Either way we watched the sheets of rain come down around us as we tried to work out where we were and how we were going to get to our home for the next few nights, Saigon Backpackers Hostel.
The next day we were up fairly early and ready to explore the city. Saigon is quite well set up for a self made walking tour so we grabbed a map from our hostel and set off, first stop, the War Remnants museum.
A lot of what you see in the museum can be seen as propaganda against the US. In the Vietnamese version of events the US simply invaded Vietnam and there is no acknowledgment of any previous conflict between the North and South. Still, I don’t think history will look kindly upon the decisions of the American government at the time and some of the atrocities are plainly documented through some amazing photography. Interestingly, in a large number of cases, western photographers didn’t actually take the photos themselves – that would be far too dangerous! Each had around 10 local runners whom they trained up and then paid to take pictures in the heat of the battle. Perhaps the most famous photo of them all called ‘The Girl in the Photo’ which sparked worldwide demonstrations against the war wasn’t actually taken by the originally accredited photographer but by lesser known local. In this case the man behind the lens later received recognition for the photo in the form of the Pulitzer Prize. Here’s the photo in case you don’t know what I’m talking about…
There was also a whole area of the museum which related to Agent Orange, a horrendous chemical used by the US which impacted generations of families who to this day are being born with disabilities. Look it up if you’d like to know more but it’s just too depressing for this blog. On a lighter note, if you want to see some huge tanks and giant artillery shells then this is the place to be!
Inside the museum;
Strangely colourful looking Artillerary Shells;
After that it was a quick Iced Coffee (Saigon is HOT!) before heading back through the market to the hostel.
I can’t believe I don’t drink Iced Coffee in the UK. It’s amazing! Best served with a cold herbal tea.
On the way back we went through the main market and Debbie took some cool photo’s of the action;
Lady smashing a knife into a fish;
Who knew there were so many types of eggs (more on this later). Not sure why I included this,, just like the picture I guess!
Then it was the post office which is a pretty cool building. Post Offices are often a big deal in major cities but I can’t think of the London equivalent. Do we have one?
For anyone thinking Saigon was slightly old school, it’s clear that this is a city in period of rapid development with skyscrapers more akin with Shanghai…
That’s all for now but more tales of street food and Bia Hoi to come soon.